Next Gen Wishlist
Here we are, the wonderful in-between period between console generations when interest in the old systems has begun to wane, but there is still very little news of what’s next. Code names for new hardware are being whispered, and new handhelds are fighting for survival. With E3 around the corner, there has been a lot of buzz around Sony and Microsoft throwing their hats into the next gen ring. People more in the know in the industry than myself have stated pretty clearly that their next real consoles won’t be at this E3, but that just give us more time to make our own wild speculations.
Nintendo has already seen fit to unveil their new hardware to start the hype train early. This may or may not be to their benefit, but it can’t be denied that it’s going to be quite an interesting launch. I doubt that they’re going to recapture the Wii fever that enraptured the world a few years ago, but I am particularly excited to see them making a move from motion controls to a much more practical controller. Motion controls are good fun when you and your friends are having a good time on Friday night, but for real marathon RPG sessions they are certainly less than ideal.
What I would like to see from the Wii U more than anything is a DS player. The Super Nintendo has a Game Boy player, and the Gamecube had the Game Boy Advance player; both of which were fantastic for heavy handheld players such as myself. I do love my on the go gaming, but it is nice to lay back on the couch and enjoy a game on the big screen. A DS player would certainly sell the Wii U to me, and Dragon Quest IX on my HD television would be a dream come true.
Sony’s Orbis system, which we will most undoubtedly not be at E3 this year according to them, is still quite a mystery. They’ve had quite a hard time with the tumultuous launch of the PS3 and its whopping $600 initial price tag.
My greatest wish for the Orbis is that it doesn’t include a Move style motion control in lieu of a traditional controller, but if I had to choose one of the current motion technologies to have it would be Move. From a hardware perspective it appears to be the most functional, but unfortunately does not have any worthwhile software to back it up. I feel that Sony is at its best when backing up their systems with great RPGs, and it’s a niche that has slowly been diffusing outward to other systems. The DS is as much of a pillar of RPG goodness these days as the PS3, and while it isn’t the biggest niche it’s still an important one when talking about hardware longevity. Initial sales are great but it’s the diehard fans that keep a system floating several years down the line.
Sony has a solid lineup of hardware right now with the Vita and PS3, but they don’t seem to be doing much with them. Yes, they both function as gaming/Netflix devices, but the interoperability between the two has been largely absent. Yes, a couple of games have some extra modes that make use of pairing the two systems, but I would hardly call it revolutionary.
I want to see Sony really take the Vita to the next level (or any level above the failing life support it’s currently on) and marry the Vita to the PS3 or Orbis in a way that actually does make me want to rush out and by them both. Right now the Gamecube had better interoperability with the GBA than Sony has with their systems, and that’s really a sad sight to see.
Microsoft has been enjoying the same kind of hardware revision philosophy that Nintendo has been engaging in since the Game Boy Pocket. At this point I think there are more models of Xbox 360 than models of DS, which is really saying something. The $99 Xbox 360 with subscription model has been written about quite extensively, and with the unexpected success of Kinect it’s becoming increasingly clear what their game plan will likely be. I would speculate that we’re going to see an Xbox with Kinect built in and the same cell phone style contract that their testing out with the $99 Xbox. The success their seeing with these ideas may mean that Microsoft has the hardware to grab non-gamers the way Nintendo did with the Wii.
My biggest wish for Microsoft is simply that they really amp up the quality control on their next system. The Xbox 360 has been plagued with hardware issues since launch, and it’s something that it has never completely gotten over. Red rings are still a very common joke in the industry, and at the end of the day that really does enforce a negative image of the system. I would be interested in Microsoft jumping into the handheld market, but we’ve yet to see any indication that they’re planning on it. So a pipe dream that shall remain.
With three real contenders in the console arena, and PC gaming still going strong despite what cynics say, this is a really exciting time to be a gamer. We’ve been living in a three console world for quite a while, but never has each stood so independently of the other with no clear winner. Rumors about used game support are buzzing around on the internet, and the success of the Vita is still very much up in the air.
Judges week is going on as we speak and I’m hearing a lot of great talk about how great the games are going to be this year, but I think we’re all going to be digging around for hardware news.